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If you’re looking for an airline card that offers a great rewards rate for each $1 you spend, and you’re willing to put up with high fees associated with redeeming miles for airfare, you might like the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® — especially if you spend enough on the card annually to take advantage of the several opportunities it gives you to earn bonus miles.
In this article:
- Where the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® stands out
- Additional benefits
- Where the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® falls short
- Compare it with the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
- The bottom line
Where the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® stands out
High rewards rate. Earn 3 miles per $1 spent directly on Virgin Atlantic purchases and 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases with no limit to the number of miles you can earn. This is a higher rate than many other airline cards, which may only offer 2X miles on airline-specific purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent on other purchases.
Ways to redeem miles include:
- Booking a flight (or using cash and points to pay for a flight)
- Transferring miles to someone else as a gift
- Booking a chauffeur
- Getting a spa treatment at Flying Club’s Gatwick and Heathrow Clubhouses
- Transferring your miles to spending partners, such as airlines and hotels
Though Virgin Atlantic has a more limited set of destinations than larger airline brands, a “joint venture” partnership with Delta adds more value to your Flying Club miles. You can spend and earn miles on Delta flights the same as you can on Virgin Airlines flights.
Generous sign-up bonus. Earn 60,000 Flying Club bonus miles after spending $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
Anniversary bonus. Cardholders earn up to 15,000 bonus miles every anniversary year after qualifying purchases are made with the card — the first 7,500 when you spend at least $15,000 on purchases within the specified time frame and 7,500 more when you reach $25,000 spent on purchases within the time frame.
Bonus for adding authorized users. Earn up to 5,000 bonus miles for adding two additional cardholders (2,500 per authorized user).
Chance to get a companion ticket. Cardholders have the chance to get a Premium upgrade or a companion ticket after spending $25,000 or more on purchases annually (calculated in an account anniversary year, not a calendar year).
No foreign transaction fee. This card is a solid choice when traveling outside the United States. Don’t worry about paying an additional fee on each purchase you make — the foreign transaction fee on the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® is none.
Earn tier points. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club offers three membership tiers. Earning tier points lets you move up the membership tiers, earn more miles on Virgin Atlantic flights and get access to additional perks. These are the tiers:
- Red. This is the basic tier you get by joining Flying Club.
- Silver. You need 400 tier points to get this. It comes with perks including 30% miles on flights, Premium check-in, and free seat assignment in economy light.
- Gold. You need 1,000 tier points to get this. It comes with perks including 60% more miles on flights, Upper Class check-in, extra luggage allowance no matter which cabin you fly in and lounge access.
When you use the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®, you’ve got an opportunity to earn 25 tier points per $2,500 in purchases, up to a maximum of 50 tier points per month. (The other way to earn tier points is to fly on Virgin Atlantic flights. You can earn from 25 to 200 points for a one-way flight, depending on how you fly.)
Where the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® falls short
Taxes, fees and surcharges. These charges start at $205 and go up from there. For example, flying round trip from the United Kingdom (Virgin Airlines is U.K.-based) to Atlanta in economy Classic will come with a charge of $435 in addition to the 30,000 miles you have to redeem for the flight. That’s during the airline’s standard season flying dates — peak season flights can be more costly both in dollars and redemption miles.
Compare it with the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.
Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
Check your 1st bag free on every Delta flight*
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.
- Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- NEW! Earn now. Travel when you're ready. After you spend $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year, you will receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit to inspire your next travel.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta Flights.
- Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
- Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
If you’re looking for an airline card without all high surcharges, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is worth consideration. The two cards have comparable annual fees, and the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card has good rewards and perks if you frequently find yourself on Delta flights.
|Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®||Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card|
|Welcome offer||60,000 Flying Club bonus miles after spending $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening||Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.|
|Rewards||Earn 3 miles per $1 spent directly on Virgin Atlantic purchases and 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases with no limit to the number of miles you can earn||Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.|
|Foreign transaction fee||None||None|
|Annual fee||$90||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.|
|Regular purchase APR||16.74% to 24.74% variable||15.74%-24.74% Variable|
To see rates & fees for Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card please click here.
Useful perks on the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card include your first checked bag free and a 20% savings on eligible Delta in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit.
It’s worth noting, though, that the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® offers a higher rewards earning rate.
The bottom line
The ongoing rewards on the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® are pretty good, and if you spend at least $25,000 on qualifying purchases each account anniversary year, you have the opportunity to get good value in the form of bonus miles and a companion ticket (or a Premium upgrade).
Plus, the ability to redeem miles with partners, such as Delta, make this card worth more than it would otherwise be.
However, redeeming your miles can come with heavier-than-expected costs in the form of taxes, fees and surcharges.
For those considering other options, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is an airline card with much to offer. Or, for travel cards with more flexibility, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card are competitive options.